Preparing for a new baby is an exciting time. New parents often spend hours decorating the nursery, choosing names, and making their homes safe for little ones. Just as important to a baby’s safety as plug covers and safety latches are infant immunizations. These vaccines protect against diseases, ensuring the health of not only your baby, but also the community.
Why So Young?
Babies receive most immunizations almost immediately after birth, and the rest come within the first few years. Many parents worry that giving all these vaccines can hurt the baby. On the contrary, it’s important to give children vaccines as soon as possible, to protect them against disease and illness.
- Doctors note that it is easier to prevent injuries and illnesses, than to treat them. Immunizations protect children from getting sick in the first place, so they don’t have to endure a serious illness.
- Babies don’t have the immune systems to withstand some illnesses and diseases. And although they inherit some immunity from their mothers, this wears off by the first birthday. Immunizations help them withstand illnesses and pick up where inherited immunity leaves off.
- Vaccines also help protect people who are unable to be vaccinated themselves, since it helps prevent outbreak of illnesses. Children with compromised immune systems, who have certain kinds of cancer (such as leukemia), or who are too young to be immunized are vulnerable to illnesses that can be prevented with vaccination.
- Through vaccination, many illnesses have been virtually eradicated. Take polio, for instance. The once debilitating—and life-threatening—illness is now basically eliminated in the United States. Yet skipping vaccines can promote outbreaks of preventable illnesses. From 1989 to 1991, the US saw a measles outbreak. The CDC attributes it to “low vaccination coverage.”
Ultimately the immunization schedule has been carefully crafted to give babies the maximum protection possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other professional organizations regularly examine the immunization schedule to ensure its safety and effectiveness. Meanwhile the FDA closely monitors the manufacture and distribution of vaccines, to make certain that every vaccine meets high quality standards.
It’s important to know that not all children can receive vaccines, due to allergic reactions or other medical conditions. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about all immunizations. Medical experts consistently reiterate that the benefits of immunizations far outweigh the risks.